Side Mission: Stay Healthy While Gaming
Improved social skills, better brain health, and enhanced focus and attention are just a few of the benefits of gaming teens experience when they take up the activity. However, gaming doesn’t come without risks. Too much of it can adversely affect your health and well-being.
So, you must learn to balance staying healthy and gaming. The healthier you are, the better you feel and function. In addition, you may play better when your body is nourished, your mind is clear, and your emotions are stable.
That said, keeping yourself healthy probably seems like a huge task, and it seems as if every “health expert” may have a differing opinion on what’s the best method to stay healthy. Not to worry though. It doesn’t take rigid workouts or a strict diet to stay healthy. Small and consistent health changes will do the trick.
These tips will help you live your best gamer life in the healthiest way possible.
Take Care of Your Mental Health
One of the major concerns with your gaming is its effect on your mental health. There’s a lot of research out there on how too much gaming can bring on anxiety, depression, emotional instability, and loss of interest in other activities.
Strong mental health is essential to establish boundaries that help you fend off the negativity gaming can bring. More importantly, you need your mental and emotional health to be intact to live confidently and productively.
So, take care of your mental health for a better gaming experience and a better life. Know the signs of mental health issues, like:
- Dramatic mood swings;
- Difficulty concentrating;
- Changes in your sleep schedule;
- A loss of interest in social activities;
- Persisting fear, anxiety, or nervousness.
In addition to studying the symptoms of mental health challenges, take steps to continually improve your mental health.
For example, avoid caffeine before you go to bed so you can sleep well. Get away from your screens and go on a walk every day. Talk to a parent, sibling, or close friend about what you’re going through so that you aren’t bottling up your emotions.
Take care of your mental health so that you can develop healthy gaming and life habits.
Prioritize Physical Activity
Prioritizing your physical health along with your mental health is a must. Gaming can harm your body if you aren’t careful.
For example, it’s natural to sit a lot while you’re gaming. Sitting too much can be dangerous because it can lead to chronic health issues like heart disease and diabetes. It can also result in a stiff neck and back, weight gain, and decreased bowel function.
Taking stand-up breaks often while gaming is a start to better physical health. Even better is making exercise a part of your everyday. We aren’t talking 5 days a week at the gym for two hours each session. We’re talking simple fitness-related activities, such as:
- Washing the car;
- A 10-minute or less workout;
- Dancing it out for a few minutes;
- Playing horse with your siblings;
- Going up and down your stairs five times;
- Taking a walk or riding your bike around the neighborhood.
It doesn’t take a whole lot to prioritize physical activity in your days. Do these simple activities consistently, and you’ll see a world of difference.
Avoid Eye Strain
The American Optometric Association found that “gamers spend more than eight hours a day using handheld electronic devices and over four of those hours playing video games on those devices.”
It’s no wonder so many suffer from eye strain. Staring at a screen every day for that long will do that to a person. If you have blurred or double vision, burning, itchy, or watery eyes, you may be experiencing eye strain too.
You can mitigate and/or avoid eye strain by:
- Drinking a lot of water;
- Taking a break every 20 minutes;
- Making sure the room is lit well;
- Tilting your screen toward you to reduce glare;
- Staying 20 inches away from your screen if it’s large and 13 inches away if it’s small.
Good vision plays a significant role in how enjoyable your gaming experience is. So, make sure you’re taking care of your eye health.
Opt for Healthy Snacks and Drinks
It’s easy to say that eating junk all of the time while you’re gaming won’t affect you because you’re young. But the reality is that unhealthy snacks and drinks will eventually take their toll if it becomes a habit.
For instance, too much soda can make you start to crave sugar like it’s a drug. Also, the caffeine in soda can leave you with a headache and feeling dehydrated and anxious.
Instead of fatty snacks and sugar-ridden sodas, opt for healthier options in both regards. Replace one or two of your sodas with a bottle of water. Bake potato chips yourself and lightly dust them with salt. Choose fresh or dried fruits instead of candy.
You’ll feel a significant difference when you start fueling your body with good foods and drinks.
Don’t Neglect Your Sleep
When you’re in the groove of a game, the last thing you think about is taking a break. Before you know it you’re gaming into the wee hours of the morning. But neglecting your sleep can do you so much harm.
Always feeling tired and having a hard time focusing is just the beginning of your worries. Sleep irregularity can lead to more serious health conditions, like Atherosclerosis. Plaque and other substances build up along your artery wall, slowing oxygen to crucial organs.
An all-nighter might be okay for a special occasion. Other than that, you need to get a good night’s sleep every night. Set a regular time for lights out. Turn your game off an hour before this time. And let your mind and body naturally drift off to sleep. Strive for at least seven hours a night.
Prioritizing your health doesn’t necessarily mean you need to stop gaming. Instead, it should involve checking in with yourself during your gaming routine. The more you do so, the more ingrained it’ll be, and the healthier you’ll end up.